kit hinkle a new season a widows might

All Eyes are NOT on You

Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!

Psalm 46:10 (KJV)

“Please pray for me to be joyous. I want to be a light to people around me.”

Those were the words of a precious friend who had recently lost her husband and felt the weight of everyone’s eyes upon her.  She was trying to be strong for everyone else, but as we all know, it’s not always easy to be joyous or bold. We can’t simply step over our grief and get to the joy without first acknowledging our struggle.

The “good Christian woman” who handles her grief with no vulnerability seems too high up on a pedestal—an example too perfect to be of any use by others. The times people have seen me spill tears over Tom makes their witness of my pinnacles of joy and bold steps forward more real as God’s light in their lives.

Most widows struggle with these two polar images–the tearful widow and the fearless widow. Do you find yourself wondering how people around you picture you? Let’s explore these two stereotypes of the widow and then decide why neither fit.

The Tearful Widow

When the loss was fresh, the way people fussed over me both warmed me and made me feel awkward. I didn’t want them to stop because I didn’t want to be alone. At the same time, I felt pitying eyes constantly watching me through my ups and downs. Sometimes when I cried in public, I’d worry over what others thought of my tears, embarrassed to be the object of everyone’s sympathy.

The Fearless Widow

On the flip side, it’s also okay to have a surge of boldness and decisiveness as long as your decisions are grounded in God’s wisdom.

I didn’t hesitate to take bold steps to help my kids and me in managing our grief and our family matters. My actions were based on prayer and direction from the Lord, but stepping out in faith had me worried people would think I wasn’t sad enough–like making bold decisions about my future would lack reverence for my lost husband.

You’re not the Center of Attention:  What a Relief!!!

I started to put pressure on myself—to fret over what others thought of my grieving.

Women so naturally worry about relationships around them. Sometimes, it’s a relief to remember that people aren’t always focused on exactly what we are doing or what our reactions and behaviors are. In a way, it’s pretty self-centered to think people are! Everyone is so busy with their lives—just reassuring them how grieving naturally involves a mix of tears and triumphs is the best way to handle what feels like the glare of people noticing us in our grief.

Audience of One

I was only able to be a light when I stopped my worry over what they thought of me. I purposefully stilled the thoughts, as the Psalmist wrote God asks us to do. “Be still and know that I am God.” I had to stop looking around me for approval and accept only the watchful eyes of the Father.

My friend has since decided to do what I had done—learn to relax about what others think and rest in Him as the Psalmist suggests. People expect neither unnatural joy nor gnashing of teeth during our grief. Often we presume people are watching when really, we have the freedom to take time to just experience our sadness. Just acknowledging our pain helps us heal and move on.

Dear Lord, give us a stillness in our hearts that protects us from feeling observed and exposed. Help us to see the attention given us in the eyes You give us through our new creation and not through our flesh of self-absorbed anxieties. People care and love us. Isn’t it wonderful, Lord? Help us to accept that love and read nothing more into it. Give us the freedom to grieve the way You ask us to and not feel pressured to express ourselves the way we think others expect our grief to be expressed.  Amen.

017_HinkleKit Hinkle is the Founder and Ministry Lead for A New Season Ministries, Inc., and an author and speaker. She has lived through corporate careers as a chemical engineer and a management consultant, but now finds her finest career as a home school mother to four teen boys–one of them launched in college. She loves Pilates and her best friend’s Bosanova Christian yoga-style stretching, and craves more walks through the woods with her chocolate lab.  Her dream is to live on the beach–and Charleston is just calling her!  She knows what it means to be in a new season. She lost her first marriage to divorce when she was very young and lost her loving husband to a heart attack in 2007.  To sit with another who is walking through her tough road and show that woman Christ, brings joy and fulfillment to Kit. It’s such an honor to participate in His kingdom.
If you are interested in having her speak, please contact her via email at admin@anewseason.net. 
Other articles by this author: www.anewseason.net/author/khinkle

Would you like to read more about being vulnerable?  Here are some articles you might try:

One Million Tears by Liz Anne Wright

Triggers: Your Sister Feels them Too by Kit Hinkle

7 replies
  1. Sarah
    Sarah says:

    Oh my gosh…yes! This! This has been a huge burden on me lately. Especially in front of my kids. I’m having a rough time right now (we are approaching both my first wedding anniversary and the year mark of when we lost my husband, among many other first anniversaries without him. But I feel like if I don’t keep it together, all of the kids fall apart and then that makes me fall apart even more. And not just grief – if I’m angry and short-tempered, so are they. If I’m sad and crying, then so are they. I feel this need to be strong even when I don’t feel strong – I feel like it’s impossible to control my emotions right now and yet I feel like that is exactly what I need to do for them. We are a mixed family of his two daughters (one I have full time and one I don’t), my daughter, and two foster sons. All of my kids are dealing with other very serious and heavy issues right now. Each of them different. And that’s in addition to the grief. Everything I feel comes right out of me, I’ve always worn my heart on my sleeve. And right now that is causing a lot of distress in our family and I just don’t know how to cope. How do I be a grieving wife and a good mom at the same time? I keep trying to help the kids acknowledge their feelings but when I try to do the same, my kids can’t handle it. I don’t want to put my grief on them. I just feel so alone.

    • Kit Hinkle
      Kit Hinkle says:

      Sarah, I feel for you. Truth is, when I project that “calm assertive energy”– it’s not a pretense that I’m projecting. Truth is, I really feel calm and assertive. I can only be real and the kids only respond to the right attitude. So to get it, I have to get alone with God and ask Him to fill me with it. I have to really allign myself with His will and get that this is real–His power. That He really does have our best interest in mind and He really is going to deliver us through this.

      I’m hearing that you are on a rollercoaster of grief and you feel burdened to act right in front of the kids. I am not a licenced therapist so please know I can only speak from experience, but if you truly want to overcome these feelings, you will stand a better chance by first asking God to help you trust Him.

      He really will back you– you will raise these kids well, and you need not fear. Prayers and hugs for you, Sarah. …Kit

  2. Jessica Errico
    Jessica Errico says:

    Hi Kitti,
    I found your site through our She Speaks Next Step conference calls.
    Praising GOD for the ways He is using you! May He continue to give you such sensitivity and vulnerability, that many will be encouraged to lean on Christ.
    HE is our ALL in ALL!
    Blessings, Jess

  3. Kitti
    Kitti says:

    Julie, you are so normal, and yet extraordinary too! So glad you get how the Father is carrying you. Please know that the second year without your husband might be better in some ways and present different challenges in another. Please feel free to contact any of us if you feel you need to hear how the second year felt different from the first to some of us. Blessings.

  4. Kitti
    Kitti says:

    Kimmy, your words are wise. Your Daddy is strong so He can carry you in your weakness. The tear shedding doesn’t have to mean tear flooding when you stand on the truth of who you are in Him, allow the tears, and then gently move forward. Love being encouraged by your Godly words. Thank you!

  5. Julie Woodside
    Julie Woodside says:

    Hello — I so love reading this site. It has been a comfort and encouragement to me to know I am not alone and that others have faced what I have. July marked 1 year since I lost my husband. Over the last year I have gone through many of the thoughts and feelings you discussed here. The feeling like all eyes are on you and so many giving you attention and feeling awkward but not wanting them to stop either. Another thing I faced was so many telling me how I’m such a “strong Christian women”. It put so much pressure on me and I finally had to tell them you may think I’m strong but I don’t feel strong and I don’t want that pressure on me to have to be strong. How freeing that was. The tears still come often for me but I’m ok with that. As time has gone on I have realized the attention that was once there is gone as people have moved on past the loss of my husband and my children and I still move forward in our grieving. I find comfort in knowing it’s not as hard today as it was a year ago. Thank you Lord.

  6. Kimmy Barraco
    Kimmy Barraco says:

    Kitti,
    As I read your tender words, my own heart journey was exposed. I have been walking with a hurting heart for 14 months, yet masking so much of what is in me. Walking unscripted into each day, I will pray His strength allows me to let my tears flow rather than worry they reveal my weakness. The reality is I AM weak……My Daddy is strong!

    Thank you for your words.
    Kimmy

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